In 2004 Professor Perry Goldstein, chair of the Department of Music, was commissioned to write a set of songs entitled Should This Be Found: Six Songs on Scott’s Last Expedition by the U.S. Military Academy Band at West Point on the ill-fated Robert Falcon Scott expedition to the South Pole in 1910. In 2012 he re-orchestrated the music for Stony Brook University faculty soprano Brenda Harris and the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra. A performance was scheduled for November 3, 2012, but the concert was cancelled as a result of Superstorm Sandy.
“I was deeply moved while writing about the Scott expedition to the South Pole and the piece is expansive: six songs lasting 35 minutes,” said Goldstein. “The temptation to write ironic, modernist music in the 20th and 21st century is always great, and I was pleased to engage many of the ‘old-fashioned’ virtues of Scott’s time: heroism, self-sacrifice, generosity and humor.”
Now a year later, Goldstein’s music will be conducted by former Stony Brook DMA student Jeffrey Meyer at the Orchestra’s concert on Saturday, November 2. Meyer is orchestra conductor at Ithaca College and is also conductor of the St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra in Russia.
Also of note, the text for Goldstein’s piece, which came from Scott’s diaries, was arranged by American novelist Richard Powers, whose book, The Echo Maker, won the 2006 National Book Award for Fiction.
“Scott’s diaries are beautiful, and they have been masterfully arranged for this piece by one of the U.S.’s greatest novelists, Richard Powers,” said Goldstein. “His choice of excerpts from Scott’s diaries tells the story — the near shipwreck on the voyage, the beauty of the Antarctic landscape, the humor of the men singing to the penguins, the disappointment on discovering that they had been preceded at the Pole by 33 days, the physical arduousness of the 800-mile trek. The music is appropriately tonal and accessible and aspires to be luminous, ominous, heroic, humble, prayerful and raucous as befits the images. I tried to do justice to the poignancy of this great story.”
On Scott’s diary, found with his body by a recovery team eight months after his death, appear the words ‘Send this diary to my wife.’ Scott scratched out the word ‘wife’ and replaced it with the word ‘widow.’ Yet despite every setback, privation, disappointment and the ultimate disaster, Scott remained brave and generous.
Goldstein received a 1997 SUNY Chancellor’s and President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and a 2006 Student Life Award. Since 1992 he has been a member of the music faculty at Stony Brook University, where he was the inaugural director of the College of Arts, Culture and Humanities; undergraduate studies director in the Department of Music; and graduate program director before assuming the role of department chair in August 2012. Goldstein teaches music theory, analysis, musicianship and composition.
“I think the performance is emblematic of what we pride ourselves on doing in the Department of Music, which is to collaborate across musical disciplines,” Goldstein added. “In this case, a faculty composer is collaborating with a faculty performer and 80 undergraduates and graduate students in the performance program, with the work conducted by an alumnus. It gives me great satisfaction to see so many people striving to mount this performance.”
November 2 Concert
The Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra concert will be held Saturday, November 2, on Staller Center’s Main Stage at 8 pm. Goldstein will give a Provost’s Lecture at 6:45 pm in the Recital Hall. Tickets for the concert are $20 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors. In addition to Goldstein’s piece, the program includes Copland, Clarinet Concerto, and Brahms, Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98. The concert also features Brenda Harris as soprano soloist and Chester Howard, winner of the 2013 Concerto Competition, as clarinet soloist.